From 'Diary of a Left-Handed Birdwatcher'
by Leonard Nathan
'I dream of the sacred book of birds again. I dream that I open it to an account of a fifteenth-century Italian traveler, one Virgilio Stampari, concerning the poet Abu Ibn Sulam, who, blind from birth, is reputed to have composed 999 poems, each with a different bird in it, some of them -- like the Silver Sparrow and the Rainbow Cuckoo -- already extinct before the Flood. Not a single example of Abu's work remains. For to this poet, to sing was to compose -- or to compose was to sing. Thus his poems flew off into the air like birds loosed from a cage.
Stampari also tells us that crouched at the poet's knee was a slave boy who could whistle to perfection the songg of any bird that came to drink or bathe in the waters of the fountain on whose steps the poet sat every day, all day. The boy was otherwise mute, his tongue cut out by the pirates who sold him to the poet. Listening to the boy's imitation of a song, Abu would promptly create from it a poetic bird more vivid, more alive, more whole than the original.
Stampari was not an eyewitness to this marvel but, he tells us, offers the reports of Syrian merchants, how trustworthy he neglects to say He concludes with this cryptic observation: "Perhaps after all, truth follows fact, although at some distance, but the mouth is a cunning instrument."'
posted by Lisa Thompson on 7:22 PM link | comments 
I'm waiting for the rain. Tonight, they say, she's coming, and when she comes she ain't gonna stop for days. One days-long, fat storm to soak dry-fallen-leaf-strewn paths with high winds to bring down tree limbs and rattle windows. Well, bring it on, I say. Recently I spent a couple of years in southern California, scene of my childhood where it barely rains. Rain is always somewhat startling there, and it doesn't really fit in. Here in northern California rain defines an entire part of the year with pre-rain preparations, rain back-up plans, rain damage control, talk of rain, and the rain itself.
Tonight I'll dig out my mud boots and lean them next to my cool field hat by the door. I'll build a fire and sip tea and read a book about migratory birds. I'll wake up at the sound of rain on my skylight and give thanks for the water coming down from the sky -- may it fill road-holes with mud, may it bless the parched earth.
Tomorrow at the post office people will arrive to check their mail amidst showers. Greetings will be louder and happier than before as people shake the drops off their first-day-of-the-season-raingear.
Some years are dry, but most of the time we can count on water falling from the sky. Ain't it fine?
posted by Lisa Thompson on 8:09 PM link | comments 
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